The Evolving Mac

July 30th, 2008

A Macintosh in Your Pocket: iPhone 3G Review – Michael Mistretta

Michael wrote an excellent, in-depth, review of the iPhone 3G. It is especially good because this is his first iPhone, and his impressions are fresh.

Michael writes:

Think about it, the iPhone + the AppStore could be a major paradigm shift in how people look at “computers”. For many people, the iPhone can be the only computer they need. Why do I need a big beige box, or a laptop anymore?

I’m not talking about the geeks. I’m talking about normal people: my mom, a teenager, the cashier at Wal-Mart. How do these people use their computers now? Email. Web browsing. Facebook. A bit of IM. Maybe some Youtube. Music. And a couple games. What if I device the size of a deck of cards could do all of that? It fits in your pocket, gets Internet anywhere, and costs $200.

The one downside to this argument is the lack of a proper word processor and an Office suite. If the iPhone eventually is able to pair with a bluetooth keyboard, I could see some people using it to take notes and type up short documents, but practically speaking, people want a bigger screens for that. Video editing, graphic design, and high-end photo editing will obviously be reserved for desktops.

It is an interesting point, and worth considering, because it is clear people want mobility. Notebook PCs have outsold desktop PCs, but most people do not need a notebook for what they do. They need access, as Michael explains, to email, the web, and social networking — none of which is dependent, or even better experienced, on a full-fledged PC. A mobile device like the iPhone fits this role perfectly.

It begs the question, then, of how people’s use of computers will change. Will they continue buying notebooks so they can use the web away from their desks, or will they buy mobile devices like the iPhone — the “post-PC” — for mobile use, and a powerful, affordable desktop for work?

Or will there be a mix somewhere in-between? I own both an iPhone and a Macbook Air, which I use as my primary computer. While as a student I depend on the Macbook Air’s mobility, I am not going to be a student for long. I still benefit from that mobility, though; I do freelance web design, and being able to pick up the Macbook Air and go to a cafe or a meeting with a client is invaluable.

Yet I also find myself looking at the iMac’s store page often, because I would benefit from its large monitor and, most importantly, its GPU and large hard drive.

From this perspective, which is a web professional one who works on a computer most of the time, I can see the Macbook Air, and perhaps a large swatch of notebook PCs, moving to a more niche position. Rather than have a full-purpose CPU, GPU and hard drive, notebooks would adopt Intel’s Atom processor, small and affordable hard drives, and a small, Macbook Air-like form factor. With a “full-sized” screen and keyboard, these notebooks would sell for under $1,000 — preferably for $799 or under.

We would then have three devices: a powerful desktop for power and screen-intensive work; a mildly powerful, mobile notebook for general work; and a post-PC device for ubiquitous communication.